Wash your hands, but keep your mind clean

wash hands_

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This article was exclusively written for The European Sting by Ms. Fernanda Clara da Silva, a student of the fourth period of Medicine of the State University of Rio Grande do Norte-UERN. She is affiliated to the International Federation of Medical Students Associations (IFMSA), cordial partner of The Sting. The opinions expressed in this piece belong strictly to the writer and do not necessarily reflect IFMSA’s view on the topic, nor The European Sting’s one.

The sociologist Émile Durkheim addresses in his work “The Suicide” that, when society is disturbed by crises or sudden changes that weaken collective relations, the state is called anomie. In this condition, as there is no social regulation or Community union, people’s harmony is disturbed and their mental health is vulnerable, due to the situation they are currently exposed to.

With the public health emergency of the new disease of COVID-19, the world has faced a new and sometimes distressing situation, facing a scenario of uncertainty and fear, which culminates in a population with increased stress, anxiety and panic from factors such as lack of perspective, fear of dying, loneliness, loss of family or friends, etc. And these factors of psychological distress can make the period of social isolation even more difficult to confront. With this, it is important not only to make the population aware, but to offer and seek tips and guidance so that the psychological side is better worked.

Thus, recommendations on the protection of mental health were made by the Department of Mental Health and Substance Use of the United Nations (UN) health agency, in order to bring this psychosocial incentive to the general population and health workers. Guidelines such as working on empathy and solidarity with others during this period, using reliable sources of health to avoid misinformation, taking care of eating and performing physical activities at home are some notes that certainly help with mental balance.

Thus, it is important to explore ways to interact and occupy yourself without having to leave your home. With the digital medium, it is possible to make video calls with loved ones, find courses and films. On social networks, there are lives with professionals talking about mental health, physical exercises and topics of interest to each one, which can be very useful during this period. Still, the practice of meditation is a great foundation, since it integrates mind and body and relieves symptoms such as stress and anxiety. Hobbies can also be explored, such as cooking, playing a musical instrument or reading. Certainly, it is possible to filter activities that help encourage balanced physical and mental health during this period of social isolation. We need to remember that this will pass soon, but until then, in addition to washing our hands, we need to keep our minds clean as well.


ALMEIDA, Felipe Mateus de. O SUICÍDIO: CONTRIBUIÇÕES DE ÉMILE DURKHEIM E KARL MARX PARA A COMPREENSÃO DESSE FENÔMENO NA CONTEMPORANEIDADE. Revista de Discentes de Pós Graduação em Ciências Sociais da UNESP/Marília. Aurora, Marília, v.11, n. 1, p. 119-138, Jan./Jun., 2018. Available from: http://www2.marilia.unesp.br/revistas/index.php/aurora/article/view/7306. Access on 19 may. 2020.

Organização Panamericana da Saúde. Proteção da saúde mental em situações de epidemias. THS/MH/06/1. Original: Espanhol. Available from: https://www.paho.org/hq/dmdocuments/2009/Protecao-da-Saude-Mental-em-Situaciones-de-Epidemias–Portugues.pdf. Access on 19 may. 2020.

Fundação Oswaldo Cruz (Fiocruz), Ministério da Saúde. Saúde Mental e Atenção Psicossocial na Pandemia COVID-19. Recomendações para Gestores. Available from: https://www.fiocruzbrasilia.fiocruz.br/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/Sa%C3%BAde-Mental-e-Aten%C3%A7%C3%A3o-Psicossocial-na-Pandemia-Covid-19-recomenda%C3%A7%C3%B5es-para-gestores.pdf. Access on 19 may. 2020.

About the author

Fernanda Clara da Silva is a student of the fourth period of Medicine of the State University of Rio Grande do Norte-UERN. Vice presidente of the academic league of pathophysiology of clinical emergencies. Coordinator of the Elderly Health Incentive Group extension project. Local Secretary General (LSG) of the IFMSA Brazil-UERN. Participant of the Collective Health Study Group. She believes in a world with medical students capable of transforming public health.

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